Fancy, Fabulous Footwear

These past few weeks have been insanely busy between applying for internships, finishing up college (how did that happen?) and figuring out my plans for the fall. However, with all of this happening, I’m starting to finally figure out what I want to do with my life, at least a little bit. Which brings me to these two amazing companies: TOMS and Sseko Designs.

TOMS is an an amazing organization founded by Blake Mycoskie, who developed a pledge that with every purchase of a pair of shoes, one pair would be donated to those in need, in Africa. Since its founding in 2006, TOMS shoes has grown tremendously, expanded its products to clothing, and enlisted celebrity promotional help. The work of TOMS continues to help so many people and incorporates three of my favorite things: travel, fashion and giving.

Sseko Designs is another passionate company from truly inspirational beginnings. My sister over at ebb&flow sparked my interest in Sseko (say-ko) last year when seeing a lot of similarities between myself and Liz Bohannon, the founder of Sseko. Since then, I have been fascinated with the work of Sseko Designs and it would be my dream to be a part of their team one day!

What is so great about Sseko? Everything! First, the sandals are made by beautiful, amazing Ugandan women who use the money as funding for continuing education tuition. Secondly, the sandals are intricate yet simple and can be tied dozens of ways, use hundreds of patterns and what seems to be thousands of bright colors. Lastly, once you buy a sole, the straps are interchangeable. Genius.

I can not say enough wonderful things about these two companies, but I applaud their work and hope to one day make a difference like Blake and Liz, or even with them (fingers crossed!). Want to learn more or get involved? Join the One for One Movement or participate in One Day Without Shoes through TOMS or become an ambassador or host a party through Sseko.

Lastly, never under-estimate word-of-mouth and the power of the blogosphere. Spread the word by purchasing some sweet kicks and blogging about the amazing organizations!

Decision Made!

The moment has come we have all been waiting for… or at least my family has been. I finally decided which third-party program to study abroad with this fall in Prague, Czech Republic.

Both International Studies Abroad (ISA) and American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) had a ton to offer and the decision was definitely a hard one, but I am proud to say that I will be applying to Charles University in Prague through ISA for the fall of 2011.

What was the tie-breaker? After numerous visits with the Study Abroad Office on campus, we determined that I would save a good chunk of change by traveling through ISA and also was drawn to the apartment style living of ISA versus the dorms through AIFS.

Overall, I’m ecstatic to finally have a plan in motion and finish filling out all the paper work tomorrow! I can not wait until mid-August and to have the best four months of my life. Stay tuned and follow me on all my adventures…

3 down, 7 to go

My apologies for the absence from the blogosphere… it’s quite hectic around here with graduation rounding the corner! But enough about that, and more about traveling around this beautiful planet. I came across this article the other day about the 10 Places Every Kid Should See. I thought I was well traveled, but it turns out I’ve got some work to do. The Braun family has hit the Grand Canyon (AZ), the National Mall (D.C.) and Ellis Island (NY). Okay, okay, so we took the ferry past Ellis Island but it was still an amazing experience to see the place where so many immigrants have come to the United States.

Although I still have seven to go, but there are two that stick out more than the rest: Yellowstone National Park  and Redwood National Park. I don’t know what excites me more, the geysers, the immensity of the redwoods or the hot springs. Not to mention the insane colors that make up these natural landscapes. Heaven. Add it to the ongoing list of places I must see before I die or maybe start planning a roadtrip to all the National Parks…. ideas, ideas. Have a great Tuesday everyone!

 

Castles, Castles, Castles

Oh man, my apologies. I need to start getting better about blogging more often. It’s funny how time seems to slip through your fingers. Anyway, I’m a little homesick this week here at Eastern and find myself daydreaming of traveling afar next semester more and more frequently. But for now, I’m here in the land of Charleston, awaiting my mom’s arrival next weekend, whoop! Even though Charleston isn’t the greatest of towns, it still has a lot to offer through its unique architecture of the college buildings, one of my favorites being Old Main.

The castle here houses some main offices as well as the math department, which my roommate is oddly fond of. Rumor has it that each of the Illinois state schools have a castle and if you put them together, they fit to make one giant castle. There are supposedly doors and stairwells that do not lead to anything, because it should connect to the next castle. Awesome.

A couple weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a different kind of castle down in Orlando at Disney World. I know everyone is probably sick of hearing about Disney World, but it just boggles my mind how someone can just create something so huge out of nothing. I wouldn’t mind spending a night in there and waiting for Prince Charming to come, if it didn’t cost the rumored thousands of dollars per night…

Now that is royalty! Although these castles are all amazing, I can’t wait to see the Prague Castle in the Czech Republic. This castle is the largest castle in the world and takes up over 18 acres of land! Dating back to the year 880, this castle housed the Church of the Virgin Mary, St. George’s Convent, basilicas, cathedrals and more. In the 14th century, the castle was transformed into a living place for Charles IV.

It wasn’t until 1989 that sections of the castle were open to the public including the Royal Garden, the Imperial Stables and Ballgame Hall. Today, the President of the Czech Republic lives there and it contains many historical documents, crown jewels and other historical articles. I can. not. wait. to. see. this.

Overdue

Well, this post is LONG overdue, my apologizes. I’ve been back in the Land of Lincoln for about a week now and am missing Florida and Disney World almost everyday. The weather wasn’t anything to talk about… until the day I left. I got a little bit of sun on my cheeks, which was more than fine with me. I wish it was 75, sunny with a light breeze all the time.

Disney World itself never ceases to amaze me. The architecture of the whole place is just amazing. I only got a chance to go to Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios parks, but man oh man, do they have their marketing and such down to a system. It is crazy how one man’s dream became an entire world. It makes you think what you may be capable of. Not to mention Disney World’s ability to make you feel like a kid again (see above picture) at any age. I was literally skipping through the parks to meet all the characters possible.

The three of us were on a mission and had the eye for finding our furry little friends all around the parks. We found Stitch, Winnie, Tigger. Eeyore, Piglet, Chip, Dale, Lightning McQueen, Mater, almost all the Disney Princesses, and more! It was a great success to say the least, especially because we got to see some of my favorites and snap a picture for my little nephew Bri Guy…

Overall, it was a perfect vacation spent with some great friends and I’m glad I got the opportunity to go. It will have to fill up my need for travel for the time being, because now its time to save save save for some big trips coming up in the fall… Europe anyone?

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